Taylor Lautner is going to play Stretch Armstrong, a superhero based on a toy. What could that possibly have in common with Iron Man? That comic-book movie is the inspiration for Nicholas Stoller, who is writing the Stretch Armstrong screenplay for director Rob Letterman. He wants Stretch to be believable, even though it's a cool fantasy.
"It's like a huge superhero movie that we're taking totally seriously," Stoller said in an exclusive phone interview on May 21, while promoting the comedy Get Him to the Greek. "It's going to have more of an Iron Man/James Bond vibe to it, with that light tone of Iron Man but the gadgetry of James Bond. I'm very excited about playing around in that world. I've never had the opportunity to."
Stretch gains the power to stretch his body to superhuman lengths. It's up to Stoller to think of all the perilous situations where only the power of stretching can save the day. "We're thinking of a fair number, but I'll say that it's going to be the most grounded, realistic version of that," Stoller said. "I love superhero movies, but I come at everything from a real, grounded character standpoint. What's interesting to me is to tell a story about this crazy thing happens to this kid and what he ends up doing with the power, versus getting really immersed in the details of such a thing."
The Stretch Armstrong toy was first released in 1976. If you never played with it, the movie will still be self-explanatory. "What appealed to me about this was getting to write a cool Iron Man [type of] movie," Stoller said. "I think when the first teaser hits, people are going to be surprised and psyched."
Hasbro is developing the Stretch Armstrong movie with Universal Studios. The toy makers plan to launch a new line of Stretch toys based on the film. Stoller does have to take notes from Hasbro, since they'll be building whatever he's writing.
"They present a lot of designs and stuff, and they obviously have approval on the story," Stoller said. "We actually just went to the Hasbro factory, which is like a Willy Wonka-style experience. They have a thing called a 3-D printer that you literally can print a toy, just create a toy. It's a pretty magical place. So they're more interested in the designs and making sure that the story has a wide appeal, which is obviously something that Rob and I are interested in as well."
Stretch Armstrong is due in 2012.